Wednesday, June 04, 2008

NCC worries over operator, distributor rapport

Apex telecommunications regulator in the country, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), has expressed dismay over the treatment being meted out to distributors of telecom accessories by various operators.

NCC which described the current relationship between the two as “unhealthy” advised that relationship should exist between telecom operators and their various distributors where operators have to treat their service vendors as partners and not subordinates or parasites.

Chief Executive, NCC Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, who expressed the commission’s disappointments at the weekend, said that prevalent reports of soured relationships between many of the operators and their service vendors, leading to many of the distributors loosing out, is worrisome.

He said, the operators ought to take advantage of distributors to deepen their reach to their customers.

Ndukwe also said convergence in telecom and information technology convergence offers ample opportunity for the operators to give more integrated roles to their service vendors and reap more advantages.

Speaking through his Special Assistant, Mr. Ayo Oke, at the Afritex Exhibitions and Forum which ended at the International Conference Centre, Abuja at the weekend, the NCC boss said there is need to draw the attention of the operators to various options offered by telecom and information technology convergence to enable them create business models that would provide more effective, efficient and economically vibrant marketing of telecommunications services.

He said these options will no doubt facilitate market entry and clear pathway for growth of smaller players in the distribution channel, who will also serve the vital role of being a feedback channel to the operators as they, retailers, relate directly with the consumers of the product.

“Operators need to see distributors, particularly the smaller ones, as necessary facilitators of the spread and growth of their network brands and therefore should benefit from the success stories of the operators as partners and contributors to that success.

The relationship ought to be a win-win relationship,” he said.

Dr. Ndukwe added with effective deployment of necessary hardware and software over existing networks, operators could outsource some of their current activities to service vendors and enable the vendor’s share and manage network information from remote locations.

“The more advantage is that it gives the channel players the potentials and capacities to carry out more services at greater degree of independence on behalf of the network operators”, he said.

In his address entitled, “Creating Innovative Partnering and Low Cost Business Model: Win-Win Solutions for Operators and Service Vendors”, Dr. Ndukwe identified many options available to the operators to include but not limited to low cost networking, low cost retailing and virtual operator retailing.

In low cost networking, operators, he said, can support surrogate operators or partners to extend their networks to rural locations by riding on their existing infrastructure to rural locations where such operators are not likely to reach soon.

This model, according to him, is supported by section 101- 102 of the National Telecommunications Act.

He said there are is low cost retailing which allows the operators to take advantage of e-transaction possibilities to reach out directly to retailers, including the small ones to offer top up services on demand.

He said one may allow retailers to serve full independent network service marketers, or provide franchise for the distributors to run customer care centres and call centre operations among others.

In conclusion, Dr. Ndukwe said, network operators need to encourage smaller players so that they can add value to their services to enable them concentrate in building, optimizing and maintaining their networks.

He said these are achievable though partnering with these service vendors and embracing technological advantages to enhance brand value, product marketing and product distribution.

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